I’m just reentering the world as we knew it before The Big Snow pulled the rug out from under the usual routine. Maybe by the time this recipe comes out, we’ll be digging out our cars again. In the meantime, let me share the perfect recipe to feed a family on a cold snowy night. You can get the ingredients now and have them on hand for when you’re waiting on the snow plow next time. Throw in some corn muffins for the kids and you’re golden for dinner and will have some for lunch the next day.
Usually I make a version of pozole, a Mexican stew made with hominy, for Christmas Eve. It’s relatively light, warming and feeds a crowd of relatives. It also has a host of delicious garnishes that make it feel like a real meal. This year, due to being trapped in the snow, I made it early because I found some chicken thighs in my freezer. Pozole has roots that go back thousands of years and is traditionally made with pork. In that sense, you might say mine is “pozole-inspired.” I like to use bone-in chicken thighs. I also get them with skin-on because it makes for a fatty, protein-rich broth. It’s a little faster and lighter to use boneless, skinless thighs, but the broth is a little less magical.
You can also probably figure out how to make this recipe in a slow cooker, if you saute all the aromatics first, then put it on high for 2-3 hours. Add the corn and cilantro 10-15 minutes before serving. You can use frozen thighs in either a slow cooker or stove top, just increase the cooking time by 30 minutes or so. In Anchorage, one reliable place to find all the ingredients is Walmart, which has a pretty consistently well-stocked aisle of Mexican cooking ingredients. I have, though, had a hard time sourcing canned tomatillos. You can skip or sub in a jar of tomatillo salsa if you have this problem. Also, even mild green chiles have a little kick, if you’re serving people sensitive to heat. The best part of the whole meal is all the fresh garnish, so don’t skimp.
Green chicken pozole
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 28-ounce can whole mild or medium green chiles, drained and diced
1 11-ounce can tomatillos, drained, crushed by hand
1 28-ounce can hominy, drained
7 + 1 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pound chicken thighs (5 to 6 thighs) with bones and skins
1 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Corn chips, cilantro, lime wedges, sliced fresh or pickled jalapeno, thin-sliced radish, shredded cabbage, Mexican sour cream, sliced avocado to garnish
Method: In a large pot or Dutch oven that holds at least 12 cups, heat the oil and add onion, shallot and garlic. Saute on medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Sprinkle with garlic salt and generous cracks of pepper. Add cumin, coriander, chopped chiles, crushed tomatillos and hominy. Add 7 cups broth and chicken. Bring to a simmer. Allow to bubble gently over medium-low heat for 35-40 minutes, until thighs are cooked through. Remove thighs to a plate with a slotted spoon. Remove skin and cut meat from the bone, shred it with a couple forks. Return shredded meat to the pot. If desired, return a couple bones to the pot as well. Stir in the frozen corn. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. It should be more soup-like than stew-like, so add another cup of broth if desired. Garnish generously and serve.